April 6-13, 1917
War Declared April 6, 1917
On April 6, 1917 a large headline in the Bonham Daily Favorite stated:
War Declared 1:13 P.M. Today.
Both the Bonham and Honey Grove newspapers had been reporting on the war for months, indeed years, and the declaration of war was expected.
In the D. B. Hardeman biography of Sam Rayburn, it says that the House of Representatives had been in session continuously for almost 17 hours when the roll call began on the declaration of war, and that many members of Congress were on the verge of tears when the vote began. Sam Rayburn told his colleagues two decades later: "That was the most serious hour of my life, and the vote I cast upon that occasion gave me more pause than any other vote I have cast." For a time during the debate, he became physically ill and worried that he might have to leave the floor to vomit. "Of course, any man hates like the devil to vote for war," he recalled. But it was something we have to do. We had no choice."
The Honey Grove Signal was a weekly newspaper, and had already been printed on April 6, so by the April 13 issue the declaration of war was old news.
Of course there was a large German community in and near Honey Grove. An article in the Honey Grove Signal April 13 issue stated: "There is danger, great danger, that a few unwise Germans may say or do foolish things that will cause the loyal German citizens of this country serious embarrassment . . . The Signal would therefore urge its German friends to condemn quickly and severely any unwise remarks made by hot-headed irresponsible people of German blood, and it would also urge all true Americans not to hold our loyal German citizens in any way responsible for the acts of the class mentioned."
The Navy Recruiting Service arrived in Honey Grove and found considerable interest, with four Honey Grove men headed to Dallas for their final examination. The Navy was also in Bonham recruiting.
April 11-17, 1917
Of special interest in Fannin County was the impact of the war on agricultural operations. The Bonham Daily Favorite on April 11, 1917 ran an article from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with the headline "Food Crops Must Be Increased," encouraging the growing of staple food crops and the raising of poultry and pigs, and the growing of gardens.
Also in that issue was a report on a citizens meeting to take steps towards an organization of civilians to drill. "Of course you did not raise your boy to be a solider . . . and be put on the firing line to be used as a target by a foreign foe . . . but if your boy is eligible . . . he had better be in shape." [On April 14 at the second meeting sixty drilled, and more drills were scheduled for the public square.]
On April 12 the Bonham Daily Favorite ran an article from three Bonham banks suggesting that farmers "cut your cotton acreage and increase your feed crops." And there was a report that Bonham's "colored band" went to Denison to participate in a patriotic parade.
On April 14 the Favorite reported that the Bonham Cotton Mill was now flying an American flag from its "majestic flag post," which could be seen not only from those who work at the mill but also by passengers on the train through the city.
Reprinted in the April 16, 1917 Favorite from the Leonard Graphic was the news that James Brown and Howard McDuffy of the Valley Creek community had left for Denison to enlist in the US Navy. Also that William Bradford of Bonham, student at the University of Wisconsin, had taken an oath which swore him to service and was taking seven hours' drill daily and military class work at night.
In its April 13, 1917 issue, the Honey Grove Signal noted that most of the merchants and bankers were closing their businesses for 1 hour on Saturday afternoon for the purpose of discussing the food shortage. "It is a time of war, and the war has imposed new conditions that must be met sensibly and patriotically." It also noted on the front page: "It is folly to assume that our entrance into the European war will end it speedily. . .By fall there may be no ships for anything but food and feed stuffs. In that case our cotton will bring little or nothing. . . Every back yard and every vacant patch should yield something for man or beast." Also in Honey Grove there had been two meetings to discuss organization a citizens training company. Thirty-eight men signed at once.
The Honey Grove Signal editor stated "Ours is not a war for conquest; we want no more territory . . . It is a war for liberty - for liberty to sail the open seas with safety, and to make sure and steadfast the rights guaranteed all nations and people. . . If ever a duty was laid upon any people the duty of cherishing and defending this perfect liberty falls upon the people of America."
The Favorite on April 17 reported about a big meeting in Honey Grove of between 600 and 1,000 people on Saturday. The Honey Grove band marched around the Square to the pavilion. Among the speakers were Jim Lowrey, who gave his ideas about what steps to take in raising food and feed crops.
April 18-20, 1917
The Bonham Daily Favorite reported on April 18 that a patriotic rally was to be held at Lamesco.
The Favorite on April 19 reported that President Wilson issued a patriotic appeal, which included an Appeal to the Farmers. "I particularly appeal to the farmers of the South to plant abundant food stuffs, as well as cotton. They can show their patriotism in non better or more convincing way tan by resisting the great temptation of the present price of cotton and helping to feed the nation and the peoples fighting for their liberty and our own. The variety of their crops will be the visible measure of their comprehension of their national duty. . . The government . . . will do everything possible to assist farmers in securing an adequate supply of seed, an adequate force of laborers when they are most needed at harvest time, and the means of expediting shipments of fertilizers and farm machinery." Also: "everyone who creates or cultivates a garden helps and helps greatly to solve the problem of feeding the nations, and that every housewife who practices strict economy puts herself in the ranks of those who serve the nation."
The Favorite also reported that a colored man, Pinkney Erskine, "who had been here every since soon after Lee's surrender," decided "to organize a company among his color to drill. He says he has some fifty or sixty men in sight." Two drilling companies of negroes, one old and one young, were organized. Committee: P. W. Erskine, Jeff Murrell, Charlie Jordan, Dorset Stewart, Ike Stull, S. C. Patten.
In its April 20, 1917 issue, the Honey Grove Signal reported on a big meeting at the tabernacle looking toward greater production of foodstuffs and the conservation of foods. The tabernacle was filled with women and men and many stood on the outside.
The Signal also reported that a home military training school had been organized, and that 103 names were added to the rolls. A drill was to be held on the Square. Membership in the Company would impose no obligation for future service, but simply prepare for service those who might be called.
April 25 - May 4, 1917
On April 25 the Bonham Daily Favorite reported that two drilling companies of negroes, one old and one young, had been organized. Committee: P. W. Erskine, Jeff Murrell, Charlie Jordan, Dorset Stewart, Ike Stull, S. C. Patten.
On April 26 the T & P Railroad announced that it would allow members of section crews to spend half a day each week in the cultivation of truck gardens on the railroad right of way.
On April 27 the U.S. Army had a notice in the Favorite that the nearest place to enlist in the army was at Denison. The notice highly encouraged voluntary enlistment. Another notice encouraged women to become the "army of food conservers," to use the more abundant and less expensive foods, such as corn, rice, nuts and green vegetables, instead of flour, potatoes and meats" and to "stop waste in every scrap of foodstuff." Each woman was asked to take the pledge to use "in my home only the necessary amount of food" and "try in every way to conserve all foods, and to live simply."
The Favorite reported on May 8 that Old Glory was raised at the high school on a new flag pole, with the singing of patriotic songs. The school would be raising the flag every morning and taking it down every afternoon at the end of school. "This custom is one that is coming into fashion the whole country over."
Several interesting ads were in the newspaper. One by a dentist: "Do you want to enlist? You will be barred if your teeth are defective." And Everybody's Garage suggested that a citizen could "Show your Patriotism" by buying an "American Flag radiator ornament.".
The Honey Grove Signal on May 4 reported that the Home Guards were drilling nightly and occasionally in the afternoons. These were four to ten youngsters who had wooden guns and marched on vacant lots or in the streets. The Signal also reported on the passage by Congress of the conscription plan which provided for the selection of men for Army service.
May 25-30, 1917
An article in the May 30, 1917 Bonham Daily Favorite explained that every man between the ages of twenty-one and thirty, inclusive, must register for the army draft. If an exemption is claimed, public authorities will determine the exemption of each individual on the basis of a second and more ample explanation, not on the briefly stated reason given on the registration.
The Bonham Housefurnishing Co. advertised that the price of fruit jars was going higher and that the jars would be scarce later on.
The Honey Grove Signal of May 25, 1917 also had a front page article on the draft, stating that the first draft would be for 500,000 men nationwide. Registration day will be June 5. The pay for privates will be $25 per month.
A chronology prepared by the Fannin County Historical Commission and the Honey Grove Preservation League from the Bonham Daily Favorite and the Honey Grove Signal.
Originally published in the Fannin County Leader.
May 22 - 26, 1917
In its issue of May 22, 1917, the Bonham Daily Favorite announced that the Bonham Red Cross Chapter had met and several committees were appointed. A work room was provided in the Duncan school. Six sewing machines were desired.
The Favorite reported on May 23 that the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas wrote to Fannin County Judge Leslie appointing Judge Leslie as chairman of the Liberty Loan Committee and asking that a mass meeting of citizens be called to effect an efficient organization for a whirlwind campaign to educate the citizens on the necessity of their subscribing for the liberty loan war bonds. In the entire US there would be a flotation of $2 billion liberty loan bonds. All the local banks had been authorized to receive subscriptions for the bonds.
The Favorite reported on May 26 that a company organized in Bonham was named the Bonham Troop. The Captain stated that "men who enlist in Bonham Troop will not be sent to Europe under present conditions . . . but will replace the regulars now doing border service. . . This fact alone makes enlistments in Bonham Troop very attractive. Bonham will be called upon to furnish a number of men under the selective draft plan, and the fact that many are now volunteering increases every able-bodied man's chance of being drafted into the service."
The Honey Grove Signal of May 18, 1917 bemoaned the fact that to date over 4,500,000 European soldiers had been killed since the war had begun, which was more than the total population of all the men of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas. It quoted a German newspaper saying that if all those killed in the war were marching in close formation the endless line of men in the bloom of youth and the prime of manhood would be over 650 miles long.
June 19 - July 21
On June 29, 1917 the Honey Grove Signal reported that a young German man who had been in Honey Grove in the employ of the cotton firm Blocker-Miller four or five years before had been killed in France. When the "great war" had broken out the young man had returned to German and joined the German army. He was remembered as a "very handsome young man, companionable and intelligent, and by his genial bearing made many friends in our city." His best friend and roommate in Honey Grove was a young English man, J. G. Brierly, who had returned to England to fight on the other side. "The fate of [Mr. Brierly} is unknown."
The Red Cross contribution for Honey Grove was $5,431,50. Honey Grove led all Fannin County towns in donations. The largest single contribution in Honey Grove was $500 from M. A. Galbraith.
On July 3 the Bonham Daily Favorite announced that a noted negro preacher was to speak at the court house on "The Negroe's Duty and Part in the Present War." White people and the public at large were invited to hear the address. Also noted was that members of the Red Cross Society would celebrate the 4th of July by putting in the day at work at headquarters.
On July 6 the Favorite printed a letter from a Bonham boy, G. C. Alston, who was in service at the Jefferson Baracks in Missouri. He had arrived there in April after volunteering. He expected that he would soon go to France.
On Friday, July 20, 1917 the list of Fannin County young men eligible for the first draft was published in the Bonham Daily Favorite. Those on the list would be called up for examination. If the required number were obtained from the first list, the work would be stopped. If not, a second call would be made. The list was county-wide, and included 115 names. However, additional names were still being added at press time.
On Saturday, July 21, 1917 the Favorite published additional names for the first call. The number was now up to 600 names, and not yet complete.
The Honey Grove Signal remarked on July 20 that "great anxiety is naturally felt by the registrants and their people." A total of 687,000 men would be drafted nationwide in the first draft.
May 11-22, 1917
On May 16 the Bonham Daily Favorite published a letter by the Sheriff of Dallas advising citizens to make extraordinary efforts to increase the cultivation of foodstuffs and to use the ground ordinarily given up to ornamental cultivation to this patriotic purpose. He also urged "the most rigid economy in the consumption of foodstuffs," suggesting that each family reduce its consumption of food by a pound a week and the "elimination of waste and actual and rigorous self-sacrifice."
An ad in the May 22 Bonham Daily Favorite by the Fannin County National Bank promoted the purchase of Liberty Loan War Bonds.
The Honey Grove Signal on May 11 reported that the Honey Grove soldier boys who had been on the Mexican border but had recently returned were now at the Officers Training Camp at Leon Springs.
June 1-8, 1917
By the first week in June reality was beginning to sink in.
On June 5, 1917 every young man between the ages of 21 and 31 was required to register for the draft. The Governor made the day a legal holiday, and most if not all of the stores and business houses in Bonham and Honey Grove were closed.
In Honey Grove the citizens were to meet at 2 o'clock on that day at the tabernacle for prayer, for patriotic songs and for the consideration of matters of importance to the country. The band was there. The Liberty Loan Bond issues were explained.
The Bonham Daily Favorite reported on June 6 that he registration was higher than expected, although the total was not yet known. In Bonham there were 644, in Honey Grove over 500 and in Ladonia 378.
Troop M, First Texas Cavalty was mustered in at Bonham. "The troop will be called out in about 10 days." The long list of names is in the Bonham Daily Favorite. The Troop began drills on the public square in Bonham.
On June 8 the Favorite reported the complete returns: The total number of registrations in Fannin County was 4003. Of those registered 605 were negroes and 28 aliens, most of the latter being Mexican.
June 8-19, 1917
The United States had entered the World War I on April 6, 1917. Young men had registered for the draft on June 5, 1917.
The Bonham Daily Favorite reported on June 12 that a large number of representatives from Bonham and surrounding portions of the county met to discuss the Library Loan Bond proposition. A. B. Scarborough was made chairman of the soliciting committee to get all the banks in the county subscribed their pro rata share of the amount wanted, the estimated amount about $300,000.
Of the over 4,111 men who registered for the draft in Fannin County, 3,492 were white, 591 were negro, 28 were aliens and 3 were enemy aliens. Of the whites, 1,833 claimed exemptions on account of having relatives dependent on them; of the negroes 230 claimed exemption of the same ground. The Favorite headline stated: "Lots Discovered They Had Dependent Relatives."
The Favorite reported on June 13 that a farewell was given to Troop M which had assembled in the Russell building on the northeast corner of the Square on the previous evening. The Municipal Band played, and the soldiers marched west on the north side of the square to the corner, thence south and thence east and thence north to Simpson Park, where a sumptuous barbecue was in waiting. After dinner "America" was played, with C. R. Inglish asking everyone to join in, and there was a long patriotic program. Troop M was heading to the coast of Texas, where the troops would be stationed for awhile, at least.
On June 16 The Favorite reported that Fannin County had been asked to purchase almost $400,000 worth of bonds but had actually sold only $272,750. However, in the country as a whole more than the $4 billion was sold.
On June 19 the Red Cross workers of Fannin County would start their campaign to raise $65,000.
The Honey Grove Signal on June 8 reported that the draft registration in Honey Grove was much higher than expected. 435 men registered at the two Honey Grove boxes, 292 were whites and 143 colored. Immediately following the patriotic meeting at the tabernacle on June 5, a Red Cross Auxiliary was organized in Honey Grove. The aim was to have 500 members by July 4.
Also in Honey Grove the County Demonstrator was giving canning demonstrations for fruits and vegetables.
June 19 - 27, 1917
The United States had entered World War I on April 6, 1917. Young men had registered for the draft on June 5, 1917.
The Bonham Daily Favorite reported on June 19, 1917 that the ladies of the Red Cross gave a banquet at the Hotel Alexander to which leading men of the county were invited. It was decided to send speakers to all points of the county in an attempt to raise funds.
The Favorite announced on June 20 that on Friday June 22 at 4:00 every merchant in Fannin County was asked to close his business for the day and join in a general Red Cross rally and parade in Bonham, or stage a parade in another town. Bonham was to have an auto parade with Red Cross decorations and the ladies and children were requested to dress in Red Cross costume. The parade when formed would march to Simpson Park.
On June 21 a patriotic served honoring those who had enlisted in the military was held at the Methodist Church in Honey Grove.
On June 23 the Favorite reported that the big Red Cross Parade held on Friday was the biggest parade that Bonham had seen in a long time. The parade assembled on West Fifth Street at the Duncan school building There was a long line of autos decorated with Red Cross emblems and flags. The Bonham band, in the Bonham Wholesale Grocery Company's big new truck, well decorated, headed the procession. Following this came the members of Camp M, Texas Cavalry, the Confederate veterans, Red Cross nurses, the Boy Scouts, the citizens in autos and a few in other vehicles. The parade went to Simpson Park, and for nearly an hour the people listened to one of the most earnest, most eloquent, most patriotic addresses. Refreshments were sold on the ground for the benefit of the Red Cross fund.
On June 26 Chairman Philip Wise closed the Red Cross campaign by reporting that it had fallen short of amount it had been allotted to raise, even though the members of the committee had worked faithfully and enthusiastically. The figures released were: Honey Grove, $5,546.00; Bonham, $5,427.84; Ladonia, $3,500.00; Leonard, $3,344.00.
On June 27 the War Department announced the following members of the Fannin County Exemption Board, the board that would pass on which men would be excused from military duty. The individuals were: Lewis Blankenship and E. E. Nunn of Bonham and Dr. B. B. Golden of Leonard.
Federal regulations were completed regarding who will be exempt from the draft: married men with wife or children solely dependent upon them; man with aged parents solely dependent upon him; man with orphaned sisters or brother under certain age solely dependent upon him; workers in industries necessary to maintain military organization or maintaining national interest; only men indispensable to the continuance from such industries are exempted, and federal and state officials.